Monday, May 27, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Spritzers

Strawberry Shortcake Spritzer

Meet my new favorite drink, Strawberry Shortcake Spritzer! We made these drinks for a party Joe's mom threw for his brother's family because they're moving away soon. This recipe came about as an adaptation of a Strawberry Shortcake Martini because 1) Joe's sister and I were struggling with shaking the mixture with our homemade martini shaker (I forgot to bring one... oops) and 2) the actual martini was too syrupy. I should add that we ended up receiving help making these drinks and Sprite was then added.  Everything was pretty comical. The drinks, however, I think ended up being very cute and delicious. The Sprite adds a little more of a refreshing feel as well, which is great now that the weather is getting hot.

I actually ended up making these drinks again the next day for my family's Sunday dinner and my family absolutely loved them! When I re-made this recipe the second time, I actually scrapped the martini shaker all together and just added the vodka, puree, and Sprite into an ice-filled glass and just gently stirred until the ingredients came together and topped with the whipped cream. (Also instead of trying to figure out ounces and parts or whatever, I looked at my little conversion table and just converted them all to tablespoons-- you'll see that reflected below in the recipe as well. That made it so much easier for me, haha.)

Let me also tell you about this whipped cream that I found. I went to the new Total Wine and found alcohol infused whipped cream! Yes, alcohol whipped cream! In all  sorts of different flavors. In all honesty, I made this recipe as an excuse to buy and use this whipped cream. The whipped cream is so awesome and I think it added another layer of cute-ness and fun-ness to the drink!

These drinks are definitely something that I will be making for future guests and get-togethers. This is a great girly drink for a special occassion. You need to give this recipe a try!

Strawberry Shortcake Spritzers
adapted from My Life a a Mrs

For the Strawberry Puree (enough for about 6 drinks):
16 oz. frozen whole strawberries
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice

For the Strawberry Shortcake Spritzers (for ONE):
2 oz. cake flavored vodka (or 4 Tbs) (I used Pinnacle)
3 oz. of strawberry puree (or 5 Tbs)
Sprite, to taste (depends on how much you want-- I used about 1/3 c.)
alcohol infused whipped cream, for garnish (brand I used is called Cream)

For the Strawberry Puree:
Add all the puree ingredients to a medium saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes until sugar is dissolved and fruit is softened. Allow to cool and blend vigorously until smooth. Strain puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove any strawberry seeds.

For the Strawberry Shortcake Spritzer (for ONE):
Place vodka and puree in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Pour vodka/puree mixture into a fancy glass that is filled with ice, then slowly add Sprite to mixture. Stir the Sprite into the mixture gently and then top with whipped cream and garnish with a sliced strawberry (optional). (Or if you're a little lazy like I was when I remade these the second time, add vodka, puree, and sprite all together and stir, then top with the whipped cream!)

(Makes about 6 drinks)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Frozen Key Lime Margarita Pie

Frozen Key Lime Margarita Pie

It's already the next month for the Pass the Cook Book Club. This month is a fun month because it combines desserts, alcohol, and frozen treats! The three selections this month were recipes from the cookbook Slushed, which contains some fun grown up frozen treats.

If you know me, then you know that my favorite alcoholic drink is a margarita, so naturally I chose the Frozen Key Lime Margarita Pie. Although my second drink of choice when I go out is a rum and diet, so I almost made the Cuba Libra Granita (a cuba libra is essentially a rum and coke served with lime) but a good margarita will always win!

This recipe is definitely an easy one and is refreshing for a hot summer day. If you forget to make the pie the day before to freeze overnight, no worries-- I made mine around noon and it was ready to serve around 6! I made just a few changes to the recipe. Three cups of graham cracker crumbs seemed like a lot, so I reduced it to two sleeves of graham crackers that I put through the food processor (it made around 2 cups, maybe a little more). I also wasn't sure whether the crust would actually hold together without being baked, so I baked it at 350 for about ten minutes. Lastly, I tasted the filling before I poured it into the pie crust and couldn't taste the tequila, so I added a couple more tablespoons of tequila-- it ended up being an entire mini, so it was 50ml. The reason it was more mild could be because I used a silver tequila (I prefer silver tequilas), so definitely taste the filling before you add more depending on the tequila you're using.

This recipe is fairly quick to put together and is a creamy, zesty, and boozy treat for all the adults. This would be great for a summer BBQ or a treat that you keep in the freezer for those hot days when you want to treat yourself to something special!

Margarita lovers, definitely check out this recipe! If you're interested in learning more about the Pass the Cook Book Club, click the link or the banner below! I'm already looking forward to next month!

Frozen Key Lime Margarita Pie
slightly adapted from Slushed (page 134)

2 sleeves of graham crackers, made into crumbs through a food processor
2 Tbs sugar
5 Tbs butter melted

16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. key lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
2 Tbs tequila (add more depending on the tequila and how strong you like it-- I used 50ml of silver tequila)
Whipped cream for garnish, optional

Put the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl. Add 2 Tbs sugar and melted butter. Mix until combined. Press into a pie plate to form your crust. (I put the crust in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Pop the pan into the freezer and chill while you make the filling (after the pan cools if you put the crust in the oven).

Make the filling by microwaving the cream cheese for a minute or two to warm it up. This will make it much easier to stir.

Put the warm cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, key lime juice, lime zest and tequila in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on low until the mixture comes together. Then beat on medium-high for 5 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and uniform.

Transfer the mixture to your prepared frozen pie pan. Smooth surface and freeze overnight. (I froze mine for 5-6 hours and it was fine)

To serve, slice with sharp unserrated knife. If you are having trouble, leave on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing, or run the knife under hot water. Garnish with whipped cream (optional).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Queso Macaroni and Cheese

Queso Macaroni and Cheese

I was contacted recently by Latina Bloggers Connect and Real California Milk to create an original recipe using Real California Cheese. California is the number one dairy state in the United States and the number one producer of Hispanic dairy products in the United States. This recipe was both fun and challenging at the same time, and the end result was AWESOME!

One of my good friends, Lisa, makes the absolute best queso. Seriously, no other queso compares to her recipe; it's one of the best things ever. Others who have had it would definitely agree! I decided to adapt the flavors of Lisa's queso into a macaroni and cheese recipe but using Hispanic cheeses. That way you get the flavors of her queso, but in a pasta dish! It came out so delicious! It really tastes like we were eating her queso by the spoon, it was that good. Joe even served himself three whole bowls in one sitting, so you know it had his approval.

I was so thrilled by the offer for doing this post, I didn't even consider how accessible California cheese was here in New Mexico. I figured that since California is just two states away, California cheese would be easy to find. I went to three different grocery stores looking for Real California Cheese. I found some in the deli section of Albertson's, but I wanted individual packages to take home (especially for pictures with the seal). I eventually found the cheeses I used here at Smith's in the Mexican cheese section, but they didn't have non-Mexican cheeses that were Real California Cheese.

Since I didn't want to drive more around the city looking for Real California Cheese, I took about 10 minutes googling all the available Mexican cheese varieties and comparing how well they'd melt. The information that I found on the Real California Milk website was very informative about which cheeses to use. I settled on two cheeses by Cacique, an Asadero cheese and a Oaxaca cheese. The Asadero cheese ended up being my favorite because it was more creamy and buttery of the two. The Oaxaca cheese was more mild, but also good in flavor. So if you're looking for a great Mexican cheese, I highly suggest finding an Asadero cheese.

These two cheese worked wonderful in this dish-- they both melted beautifully and gave the pasta a great creamy and buttery flavor that I was looking for. No butter or boxed cheese in this recipe! Cacique cheeses are gluten free, and all the ingredients I used in this recipe I made sure were gluten free. The leftovers also reheat really well in the microwave and don't separate or get a weird texture, which is another plus! This recipe makes A LOT of pasta, so this is a great dish if you have a family or if you'd like to take to a BBQ.

This post was sponsored by Latina Bloggers Connect and the California Milk Advisory Board. I did receive compensation from this post, but the recipes, opinions, and content of this post are entirely my own. 

Queso Macaroni and Cheese
A T&H original recipe

8 oz. spicy breakfast sausage (I used Jimmy Dean hot sausage)
8 oz. ground beef
3 1/2 c. water
1 12-oz can evaporated milk, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
12 - 16 oz. pasta (shells or elbows), you can use gluten-free pasta here (I used quinoa shells)
1 tsp. corn starch
5 oz. Oaxaca cheese, shredded or cut into small dices (I used Cacique brand)*
5 oz. Asadero cheese. shredded or cut into small dices (I used Cacique brand)*
12 oz. can of salsa (I used a local salsa)

*Alternatively, you can use cheddar cheese and jack cheeses to substitute for these two cheeses.

Cook sausage and ground beef together in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Drain fat from meat mixture and set aside.

In a large pot (or Dutch oven), combine water, 1 cup evaporated milk, salt, and pasta shells. Bring heat to medium-high and simmer until pasta is tender and liquid has thickened, about 9-12 minutes stirring frequently. (If you use a gluten-free pasta or whole grain pasta, it may take longer to cook.)

When pasta is cooked, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to pasta and stir to incorporate. Simmer for another minute or two until the sauce has thickened.

Once the sauce has thickened, add the meat mixture. Slowly add the cheese by the handful, mixing to incorporate thoroughly before adding more handfuls of cheese. Once cheese is fully incorporated, add the salsa and stir until well incorporated. If the mixture is too thick, stir in a couple tablespoons of water.

Serve immediately. (Makes about 8 servings)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Kahlua Flan

Kahlua Flan

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I have such a great recipe that I've been waiting to share with you and I figured that Cinco de Mayo would be the perfect day. I originally made this back in the fall, but the lighting was so bad I wanted to wait to remake the recipe with better photographs.

Last year, my friend Maryann and I went to this fairly new restaurant here in Albuquerque called Zacatecas. After our meal, we split a Kahlua Flan dessert that was absolutely divine! It wasn't as egg-y as most flans, but had a more dense and creamy texture to it that I loved.

I originally made Emeril Lagasse's Kahlua Flan recipe to create this flan, but it was more of an egg-y flan than the creamy flan that I was looking for. Recently, I found Jam Hands' creamy flan recipe and decided to combine her recipe with Emeril's to mimic what I had at Zacatecas.

This flan is wonderful and I love the texture of it. The hint of Kahlua in the flan is great, and the Kahlua is a wonderful accompaniment. You can even drizzle more Kahlua on top of individual servings according to your taste. I don't find Kahlua to be too overpowering, so I love to drizzle more on the top!

I'm packing up this flan in about an hour to share with my family this evening at our Sunday dinner. What are you making for Cinco de Mayo?

Kahlua Flan
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse and Jam Hands

3/4 c. sugar
1 14-oz. can evaporated milk
1 12-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tbs. Kahlua (plus more for drizzling)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat until it starts to melt. Lower the heat and cook until caramelized to a golden brown. (Do not stir or touch the sugar, but swirl the pan to melt evenly.)

Pour into a metal flan mold or 9-inch cake pan. Turn the dish and swirl to evenly coat the bottom. Let caramel cool and harden.

Place evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and Kahlua in a blender; cover. Blend until smooth. (Alternatively, you can do this using a mixer or a hand-mixer. Make sure to cream the cream cheese first before adding the eggs and other liquids so that there aren't any clumps.) Pour mixture into the dish (over the dissolved sugar).

Place the dish in a larger roasting pan and add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake until set and just firm in the center but still jiggles slightly, 50 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

To serve, run a thin sharp knife around the rim of the flan. Place a platter or large plate on top of the flan and gently flip over so the plate is on the bottom.

Cut into wedges and drizzle with extra Kahlua to taste. Serve immediately.


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